Posts Tagged ‘Spoken Worlds’

A quick post of some events where I will be reading or running workshops over the next couple of weeks.

 POETRY ALIGHT at the SPARK CAFE – Lichfield


Tuesday July 9th at 7:30pm – Always a great evening of exceptional poetry.

FUSE FESTIVAL in Lichfield – Beacon Park


Saturday 13th July – 14:00 to 16:00.

In the Performance Gazebo.

The Laureates present Poetry – I am joining Ian Henery Walsall Poet Laureate to host an afternoon of Poetry


with  Al Barz – Kristina V Griffiths – Surgit Dhami – Najma Hush – Gary Longden – Tom Wyre – Roy Smith

Tim Philpott – Sammy Joe.  

SPOKEN WORLDS – Burton on Trent.

Spoken Worlds

Spoken Worlds

Old Cottage Tavern – Bykerley Street – Burton on Trent.
Friday 19th July at 7:30pm

Come and read in the now famous three halves.


Shire Hall Gallery

Join Eleanor Babb and me for a Summer Event Day

Saturday 20 JULY 10.00am – 4.00pm

Digital photography with Eleanor Babb.
An exciting opportunity to explore the idea of modern townscapes and street photography. Come and create your own images to add to a giant photo-montage of Stafford. Suitable for beginners and families.


Poetry Activity
Also learn more about poetry and words with Staffordshire’s very own poet laureate Mal Dewhirst. An accompanying exhibition of maps and verse will provoke and stimulate your imagination! Reflect on your thoughts and feelings of Stafford and help Mal to create a new poem to be performed at Stafford Arts Festival on 7th September.
Family drop in FREE




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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not enough time.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?






Following the discussions started on this blog last October and the subsequent discussions held with Staffordshire County Council, I am pleased to inform you that Staffordshire Library Services today have started their search for their first Staffordshire Poet Laureate, to be crowned on the 4th October 2012, National Poetry Day. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the debate.

To get more details on the terms and conditions and an entry form, check local Staffordshire Libraries or follow the link below.

Applications are now being called for at: www.staffordshire.gov.uk/libraries  with a closing date of 14th July 2012. – The links will be available later today if they are not there now.

I will be working on my application over the coming weeks, good luck to all those who apply.


Congratulations to Keith Large on his success at the Buxton Film Festival. Keith has two short films for which he wrote the scripts, selected in the final 9 films of a film festival last week. He was the only writer to have more than one film selected.

The Films are ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Everyones A Lunatic’ and details can be found here http://www.buxtonfilm.org.uk/

It is great to see Keith’s progression as a writer and producer to achieve the success he deserves for the work he puts into creating opportunities for film makers and actors in the region. I am looking forward to working with him again in June and July.

Keith’s website is at http://www.carrotnapper.com/


There were two great nights of Poetry last week, Tuesday saw Poetry Alight, which I reviewed on this blog and Friday saw Spoken Worlds which was reviewed by Gary Longden on Behind the Arras http://behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices1.html#Worldsmay


This week sees the Fizz tomorrow evening 22nd May. Bringing all thinks poetic back to Polesworth – with the wonderful guest poet is Margaret Torr, who will bring her unique brand of poetry and story telling to this established event – plus open mic, refreshments available and me as MC. 7:30pm start – Polesworth Abbey Refectory – High St, Polesworth, North Warwickshire. Not to be missed.

I will be videoing Margaret’s performance as part of my ongoing commitment to create a legacy of the event. I am intrigued as to what Drayton and Donne would have looked and sound like as they wrote and read before the wonderful fireplace at Polesworth that is now the backdrop to our performances. By recording them, future generations will have an opportunity to share in the readings of the great poets who are coming to Polesworth to read here today.


Last Thursday evening saw Simon and I travel up to Chesterfield to meet with Floydian Slip at their rehearsal for the performance of the WALL. What an honour it was to hear them perform the second act from start to finish. Sorting out where the poems and films will come in. The show is shaping up into something that will be really special.

Gary Longden has also come on board to write some articles in the run up to the show and then a review of the show, which will go out to the local press and various blogs including Gary’s own blog and of course this one so watch out for the extra blog posts over the coming weeks.

Keep an eye on Gary’s blog http://garylongden.wordpress.com/

The development of the footage continues and I think I now have enough archive material to edit together the pieces that are required to bring together the experience of war, rallies and the hypocrisy of Governments in their attempts to try and fool the public that things are done for the common good.

This week sees further rehearsals, a meeting with the technical team and the attendance at a rehearsal of the Shoebox Theatre who will be performing a short piece at the start of the show as a way of introducing the main performance.

Plus there is the gathering of the props and costumes that are coming together, we now have the bed, but we are short of an accordion or squeeze box – so if you have either of these that you don’t mind us using then please contact me. maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Shows are on the 6th – 7th – 8th June at the Assembly Rooms in Tamworth. Tickets are selling well so don’t leave it too late to get your ticket.
Tickets are available from the Box Office.


Readings in May

22nd May – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Margaret Torr.

June 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th – THE WALL – Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Hot Taps.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

New poems on the Poets Trail.


The Wall – Pink Floyd.


It is THE FIZZ at Polesworth on Tuesday 27th with guest poet Barry Patterson plus open mic. At Polesworth Abbey, High St, Polesworth where I will be your host. This is a free event and all are welcome.

Last week was a remarkable week which saw me working on every evening either attending readings, meetings or running workshops.

Whilst this was hectic there were some wonderful outcomes.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of running a workshop with the Tamworth Writers Group in the Old Town hall, a wonderful building that was built by Christopher Wren and sees a statue of Sir Robert Peel watching over the town from his plinth at the end of the old market vault.

The workshop was part of the project to produce a performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, which I have mentioned previously on this blog.

The workshop focussed on the song Comfortably Numb, which we discussed as a poem and then listened to it as a song and discussed it further. The writers group then wrote single line responses to the lines from the song.

There was one surreal moment when the room was silent as the writers crafted their lines, when drifting in from the outside came the busking sound of the same very song – The busker in the Market Vault giving us his version, I could not have planned this and it seemed to reaffirm what we are doing as if the busker was offering his support to this wonderful project.

The lines that were produced were numerous and different in context and style. When they were read out I could see some concerned looks as to how these lines would be put together to make a group poem as a response to the song.

I have seen these concerned looks many times before, in fact every time I do this exercise with groups, but I have never had this fail, when we start to consider the lines and group them together then the poem suddenly comes to life as the structure, themes and voices begin to meld into a story.

We did not have time to complete the poem and the group will continue with the exercise at their next meeting with a view to submitting it for consideration as part of the show.

Friday saw me attend a meeting at Pooley Country Park to discuss the installation of new poems on the Poets Trail. I arrived to find eight of the poems standing in line in the visitor’s centre, proud representatives of the poetic art patiently waiting to be given their permanent place.

A proud regiment of poems.

Four of the finished poems are to be installed along the canal, this involves wider consultation which is near completion but we are not quite there and as such we will be installing these in April.

The other four are to be installed in the country park which we can progress with; in fact the park rangers were just waiting for me to say where they should go.

I had already thought this through as you would expect, I am not making this up as I go along. However the site has changed significantly over the last 12 months, finding me face with a new car parking layout which meant that my original ideas would have seen the poems place in precarious positions with the risk of readers being mixed in with the passage of traffic entering and leaving the site.

This meant some rethinking but as we walked the site things fell into place and the four locations were identified and marked with a peg.

The four poems will be installed over a couple of days starting on Wednesday 28th March by the Parks team.

The poems to be installed this week are:

Barry Patterson’s – Advice to a Geordie Miner Lad in Pooley
– This will be located near to the capped pit head.
Margaret Torr’s – Pooley Pit Ponies
– Which will be located close to the path by the wind turbine.
Gina Coates’ Living Echoes
– To be placed where the new paths from the car park to the Heritage centre meet.
Bernadette O’Dwyer’s – Jutt
– Which will be placed on the bank at the back of the heritage centre on the opposite side to the playground.

I will post some photographs of them in situ on my blog next week.

So by Friday evening I was already in the euphoric realms of delight as I headed to Spoken Worlds in Burton, for which I was a few minutes late having taken some time to notify the poets of the news from the trail.

Spoken Worlds was one of those special nights when there are several outstanding performances and pieces that are marked out as genius.

On Friday there were several great pieces of note, including; Gary Longden’s poem inspired by the quotes of footballers, which was sharp and funny and captured the nonsense that footballers quote in interviews on the TV and football programmes, this poem needs to be heard time and again and should be requested when ever Gary reads it is a signature piece.

A new voice to Spoken Worlds was Dwane Reads from Derby whose poem of the moment about the hopes for 2012 were mapped out as if we had got to October and they had really happened. The poem as Dwane agreed was very much of the moment, on that this time next year would no longer be relevant. It would however be interesting to see him write the after the event version.

Margaret Torr’s delivery of a Vikram Seth poem from memory brought out her expertise as a story teller, engaging the audience with her eyes and movement. Margaret is guest poet at the Fizz in May and I look forward to seeing her perform a full set.

Terri Jolland read a very new piece where she looked back at her time working in an area of Leicester, that she returned too the previous Saturday when she went along to the State of Independence, which I discussed in my blog last week. Terri’s piece was full of memory and comparison, brought about by the surprise of revisiting the area where she had once worked and had now changed so much with the development of De Montfort University. A day that provided her with a gateway to memories and new poetry.

Terri and her husband Ray also delivered a comic sketch, which has become a trademark for them; Spoken Worlds has grown to expect such a piece. This month they delivered a comic triumph that saw William Shakespeare trying to compare Anne Hathaway to a summer’s day only to be interrupted by Anne with her musings that had this happened then he would never have completed his famous sonnet. It was full of fresh quips and whimsy and delivered to perfect comic timing, a wonderful piece.

The whole evening was full of some great poetry with other notable performances from Steph Knipe who gave us some of her poetry as song, Janet Jenkins who mused on Sparrows, Tom Wyre reading poems he rarely reads from his excellent collection Soliloquy, Ian Ward in the Borderlands, where he called Polesworth a city, that would not go down well at The Fizz where the locals still consider the town as a village. Rob Stevens from Buxton gave us song and poetry along with limericks in tribute to Edward Lear, which is part of a project to cover the Buxton Dome with new limericks.

The host Gary Carr made this magical evening flow with his eloquent introductions and before we knew it, it was 10:30 and time to head home.


Finally Yesterday afternoon saw me attend the penultimate rehearsal for a charity show that is taking place on Friday at the Progressive Club in Tamworth to raise funds for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

The show is a wonderful mix of dance, song, magic and comedy and few poems from me. It has been organised and produced by members of my extended family. This is the first rehearsal that I have been able to attend, but as my set is self contained this has not halted the progress of what promises to be a gem of a show.

There is so much laughter and enjoyment from all those involved it was a delight to be part of it, I only wish I had had more time to see it develop.

This should not mask the amount of time and effort that has gone into organising it, with performances to be choreographed, props and costumes to be made, comic sets to be written and rehearsed, songs to be learnt. I felt humbled by my small contribution, trucking up at the last minute to deliver some already written poetry. I will be reading some of my more comic poems but am working on my introductions and engagement with the audience as there is so much professionalism among the laughter of this show that I would not want to let them down.

Those who know me will also know that dancing is not something you would associate with me and my awkward out of step gyrations that make even “Dad Dancing” look good. So you will be pleased to know that I have even been convinced to dance in the finale. It took little coaxing, the spirit of those involved was so welcoming and fun that there was never any consideration that I would not do it.

There is a final rehearsal on Wednesday I am so much looking forward to it.

Congratulations to all of the Smith Family especially Emma, Clare, Dee, Chris, Ryan, Rachel and Mick and all of their friends for staging this show and bringing so much untapped talent to the stage.

The show is at 7:30pm at The Progressive Club, Halford St, Tamworth, Tickets are £4:00 and will be available on the door – all proceeds go to the charity.

There may be some photos next week, watch this space.

For more information on Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.


Don’t forget you can hear my lost poets on Radio Wildfire – Banjo Patterson is now on the loop.

I am still researching a very interesting Chinese poet at the moment and will post another piece in the next couple of weeks.


Readings in March.

March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Plenty of new poetry to read.


Some music that might appear in some films.


Last Saturday saw States of Independence book fair at De Montfort University in Leicester. This annual fair is a wonderful opportunity to meet with independent publishers. I always come away with a lot of books and poetry pamphlets and this year was no exception with many new collections of excellence. A harvest all carefully gathered in.

I have listed my highlights below, they are in the order that I spoke to them, so please don’t read any preferences into the order, they are all excellent and well worth checking out, their websites are all listed and you can buy books from them directly or at the events that they run, some of which I have also highlighted where I am aware of them.

Nine Arches Press.

At this years fair I met up with Jane Comane and Matt Nunn of Nine Arches Press who have been busy promoting their latest collections, including Moses Footprints the last collection from the late Milorad Krystanovich. It was launch in March and is fitting tribute to this great poet.

Also from Nine Arches is the debut collection from Phil Brown – Il Avilit which charges its way through the clamour and chaos of the prevailing world.

I also bought the intriguingly titled Mytton… Dyer… Billy Sweet Gibson… by Deborah Tyler-Bennett which dissects three lives with personal poetic portraits that bring to mind the focussed, unruly, unconventional and occasionally madness.

Other titles from Nine Arches that I also found to be an interesting, often amusing and always engaging are Planet Shaped Horse by Luke Kennard which is one of the best selling pamphlets in the Nine Arches catalogue. Also look out for All the rooms of Uncle’s Head by Tony Williams, the excellent Matt Merritt’s hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, Shod by Mark Goodwin, Matt Nunn’s Sounds in the Grass and Simon Turner’s Difficult Second Album, all I would recommend.

Not to forget Nine Arches magazine Under the Radar – the latest edition of February 2012 is also available.

http://www.ninearchespress.com/index.html  and also check out their blog http://ninearchespress.blogspot.co.uk/

Crystal Clear Creators.

I had a chat with Jonathan Taylor from Crystal Clear Creators who did a wonderful offer on six of their pamphlets which I was more than happy to take up having heard readings from a couple of the poets in the run up to the launch of these excellent collections. The covers of Crystal Clear Creators pamphlets are full of imagery that has nature theme reminiscent of Chinese artistry.

Gopagilla by Roy Marshall takes its name from a made up word from his son, this easy flowing lyrical collection breathes birdsong into an inherited presence. A pleasure to read.

Bleeds from American poet Charles G Lauder Jr, explores humanity through body parts, a story teller whose imagery and sharp interpretations are a carnival of emotions and relationships. Another excellent read.

The other pamphlets as yet un-read are Citizen Kaned by Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves, Lost Lands by Aly Stoneman, Someone Else’s Photograph by Jessica Meyhew and a collection of short stories, Without Makeup and other stories by Hannah Stephens. All of which will no doubt prove to me as excellent as the two I already knew.


Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators jointly host the Shindig at the Western pub the next one being tonight, which may be too late a notice, but keep an eye on their websites and blogs for the next one, it is always an excellent evening of poetry in Leicester.

Flarestack Poets.

Jacqui Rowe and Meredith Andrea were promoting the Flarestack Poets, all of whom they are immensely proud and so they should be they have some excellent poets in their fold. They were really pleased to be promoting their latest collection Instinct by Joel Lane, which is a selection of erotic poems that has been twenty five years in the writing from Joel whose novels and short stories already make this journalist from Birmingham a fairly well known name this latest collection of poetry can only raise his profile as a writer of excellence even further.

Other collections from Flarestack poets include Wake by Cliff Forshaw, Selima Hills Advice on wearing Animal prints, Herb Robert by Laura Seymour and Incense by Claire Crowther.


Jacqui hosts Poetry Bites at The Kitchen Garden Café in Kings Heath, Birmingham the next being Tuesday 27th, this is a well established poetry event, which as those of you who have run events like this, know, they only survive on their reputation for delivering excellence.

Templar Poetry.

At the Templar poetry, I met Paul Maddern whose collection The Beachcomber’s Report was published last year. Paul is an Irish poet who created the Seamus Heaney Digital Archive an online resource for poets. Paul was guest poet at O’Bheal in Cork City last year a couple of weeks before I had the honour of being invited along as the guest poet. I bought Paul’s collection and he signed it for me.


Shearsman Books.

I also picked up a copy of interviews through time with Roy Fisher on the Shearsman books stall which I will read with interest.

Shearsman also have an interesting book on the work of the poet George Oppen – Speaking the Estranged by Michael Heller is a collection essays written over twenty five years. Might be worth a look for the lost poets’ series.


It was great to see Matt Merritt who like me was seeking out the latest poetic titles. I also met Tony Gutteridge from the Grace Dieu Writers where we discussed organising some more joint meetings between the writers groups. It was also good to see members of Leicester’s Writers Club whom the Runaway Writers’ met in the final of the Write off a couple of years ago.

Mal’s Miscellany.

Last week also saw me add to Mal’s Miscellany 2012 – last year I published my highlights of the year as the last post for December – I did however decide to do this at the time and therefore had not made a note throughout the year of things that I might include. This year I am noting the readings that most impress me, the books I find, the places I visit as the events occur. This will not only make the post a cut and paste job over the Christmas period, but will also mean I don’t miss giving credit where credit is due.

So keep writing and performing and you never know you may end up on my review of the year.

It never stops – but I am loving it.

This week sees me at film meeting in Derby on Tuesday, a workshop for the Wall project in Tamworth and a writer’s group meeting in Atherstone on Wednesday. On Thursday, Team Steampunk meets in Leicestershire to discuss the plans for the Mars on the Rise book launch, followed on Friday with Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent.

Very Soon Events.

Also this week on Tuesday 20th March there is the Goblin Folk and Poetry club at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby, which unfortunately I can’t attend this month. Host – Bryan Langtry always welcomes new singers and poets to this free event.

As I have already mentioned it is Spoken Worlds in Burton on Friday at 7:30pm with Host Gary Carr – Open Mic with the usual 3 halves at this free event held in the Old Cottage Tavern in Bykerley St, Burton on Trent.

And don’t forget the FIZZ at Polesworth on Tuesday 27th with guest poet Barry Patterson plus open mic. At Polesworth Abbey, High St, Polesworth where I will be your host. This is also a free event.


Don’t forget you can hear my lost poets on Radio Wildfire – Michael Drayton is still on the loop and will be replaced in the next few days with my piece on Banjo Patterson.

I am researching a very interesting Chinese poet at the moment and will post another piece in the next couple of weeks.


Readings in March.

March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Weather


Clocks – Paul Brett.


Last week saw a very successful meeting on a potential future project, which if the funding bid is successful could see a wonderful opportunity for poets to engage with the community both past and present. I am excited at the possibility of leading this project and exploring further the work I did last year using similar themes and poetic techniques to shine new light and interpretations on spirit of the place both now and in its ancient past. I will keep you notified through this blog once the details have been finalised and we can officially launch the project.

I have further meeting this Friday on another potential gem, which I started through discussions on this blog, which has also been received with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm. Largely due I am told because I offered a solution rather than just moaned that some one else was not doing anything. Again I will let you know more detail when it is appropriate to do so.

Folk Songs in Ashby

Last week also saw two readings, the first on Tuesday at the Goblin Poetry and Folk Club in Ashby, which is gathering in popularity and saw a mix of poets and singers delivering some excellent performances. There were eighteen in all who signed up to perform for their five minutes, exploring themes from Mining to Cotton Mills, this really is a great event for GRAFT poetry and folk song.

Friday saw Gary Carr’s Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent, where I aired for the first time one of my Wall poems, which received a very kind review from Gary Longden on Behind the Arras. I am not sure I am setting out to re-write the words to Pink Floyd’s album, as Gary suggests, I think I am more taking the themes and writing my own interpretation. However I can see how the results could be seen as re-writing the lyrics and I was delighted that Gary felt I had done a good job on the poem The Thin Ice.

I was also interested in Gary’s take on lyricists as poets, as this is something that I have thought about myself. The obvious names come to mind, Dylan, Cohen, Lennon, Ray Davies and Morrissey in addition to the list that Gary includes in his review. For me Sid Barrett was the poet in Pink Floyd and there is a marked difference in the poetry of A Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which most Pink Floyd tribute bands avoid performing out of respect for Sid, to the later works of the Floyd including their major work Dark Side of the Moon. There is no doubt that Pink Floyd were/are some of the greatest musicians and innovators with their progressive sound and ambient lightshows, but when they decided not to pick Sid up for a gig, that was the day they lost the real poetic contribution to their work. It was a decision they took that saw them move forward to create all of the great music we know them for and craved to see when they re-emerged to perform at Live 8.

I love Pink Floyd, they take me into dreamscapes that no other band ever can, but I am always found wanting from the lyrical quality of their work post Sid Barrett and I do wonder if we would be talking about Dark Side of the Moon being the greatest album ever written if Sid had written the lyrics; and whether I would ever emerge from those dreamscapes if he had.

You can read Gary’s review at http://www.behindthearras.com/wordsandvoices.html#Worldsfeb

My work on Double Booked, has continued over the weekend, with a review with producer, Keith Large, and a series of changes have been identified that need to be made to sharpen it up, I will be working on this in the coming week and I am really enjoying the challenges that are being thrown at me.

I also managed to overcome my annoyance of last week and to match the aspect ration of the video to a PowerPoint page layout – this I was able to create and manipulate JPEG files to be included in the film. My abilities as a Digital Compositor are limited to working on still images and whilst many professionals out there might snigger at my use of PowerPoint, rather than Photoshop (as a minimum surely) – I am using what I know and pushing it to its limits before moving into other software. I sometimes think we don’t get the most out of the tools that are available to us, that we don’t push them to their limits before making the step up to the next level. I would rather make a good job with a basic tool than a bad one with a complex one.

On Radio Wildfire the loop went live last week and includes my interview and the first of my lost poets along with the following listings that I received from Dave Reeves.

The Loop brings you a radio play with Talkers and Doers by Keith Large, which features BAFTA winning actor David ‘Dai’ Bradley (Billy Caper in Kes) in the lead role.

The Loop brings you an intriguing Memoir piece with Jill Tromans’ account of her family connection to Buffalo Bill’s Wollaston Visit.

The Loop brings you Poetry and spoken word with music and soundscape from Victoria Field, Alison Boston, Angela France and Paul Lester.

The Loop brings you Poetry from Julie Boden, Heather Wastie, Dave Reeves, the late Geoff Stevens.

There’s Song from Sally Crabtree and Michael W. Thomas …

…and The Loop brings you Ambient Music with Jimi Dewhirst.

PLUS: Irons In The Fire: Jan Watts’ Laureate’s Diary – the monthly diary from Birmingham’s Poet Laureate

AND there’s Gary Longden’s Listings, in this month’s show Gary looks back at the year and lists some of his favorite events, venues and poets – check it out you might just be featured!

So join us and listen by going to www.radiowildfire.com  and clicking on The Loop

This week sees Poetry Alight at the Spark Café, this is the first for this poetry event in Lichfield, which may not become a regular event, but promises to bring together some of the best poetry from around the Midlands to a city that has thriving poetry community. It is hosted by The Lichfield Poets who are very active not only as individuals on the poetry scene but also as a group whose interpretations are performed for the festivals that keep the traditions of this ancient city alive.

I was honoured to host them at the Fizz last year when they read from their war anthology Battle Lines. The Lichfield Mystery plays and the Arts festivals would be lacking without their performances.

Poetry Alight brings the poetic voices from across the region into their hometown, something that is long over due as we see the Lichfield Poets travelling across the Midlands to our events.

Poetry Alight is at the Spark Cafe – Lichfield on Tuesday 28th Feb.

Another Lost Poet next week.


Readings in February

Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

Readings in March.

March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Not being able to match the widescreen aspect ratio of video with PowerPoint page sizes.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Someone’s Birthday last week.


Ma Vlast – Smetana.


Following my nominations for the Kreativ Blogger award last week, both Sarah James and Gary Longden have responded with randomness surrounding their lives which you can see on their blog posts using the links below.

Sarah James – http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?p=2476
Gary Longden – http://garylongden.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/kreativ-blogger-award/

I am now waiting for their nominees to post their own randomness and further nominees. I see this as a way to find some really interesting bloggers as the Kreativ Blogger Award baton gets passed on.

This last week has seen me complete the first draft version of the film Double Booked, which I will be showing to the Producer Keith Large next weekend. This has been a great project to raise my skills in film making and to learn how to get the best out of my editing software.

Something that I thought would be easier than it turned out, was pulling together some sound effects for the sound of a background party, that according to the script was “a group of undertakers raising the dead in room 25”. This line was added as we were filming in a social club on a Saturday evening and there was a good chance that we would pick up some sound from the bar downstairs. So it was easier to explain it away in the script rather than try to record around it.

As it happened on the night there was little or no sound to disrupt the filming and so I was left with a line in the script that needed to be explained with a sound effect.

Initially I had someone going WOOHOO followed by laughter, which Jimi had sourced from a SFX site on the week. This however did not work as the woohoo sounded like some lost bird flying around the hotel and took the viewers focus away from the main action and dialogue as they tried to figure out what on earth sound was.

The Woohoo has now been dropped to the cutting room floor and laughter and a little clapping has taken its place.

The problem with a background sound is putting it in the background, making it sound as if it is taking place in another part of the building, rather than being an immediate sound that is in the same room. It is not just a case of turning down the volume as this does not take it out of the room. Jimi has the knack of understanding sound and the way it is layered from distant to near sound, of how sound changes when heard from the space in which it occurs to being in a different space where there is a barrier in between the source of the sound and the listener.

In reality we filter out sound when we are listening, only taking in the necessary noise to enable our comprehension, so we don’t really listen, only taking on the immediacy of the sound of the situation.

With films it is all the sound we want to control and deliver for the listener to take in, we filter out un-required sound before we present it to the viewer/listener – but there is the art of understanding what they will further filter out from the soundtrack, which may mean they miss something that although in the background is significant to the piece and therefore impairs their understanding of the whole piece.

There will not doubt be more work to improve the piece once Keith has viewed it, but I do feel it is shaping up nicely.

I have a few meetings coming up in the next couple of weeks for three potential projects, which are exciting opportunities to work with different groups on the development of new poetry, through activities where poetry would not normally feature, bringing the experience of writing poems into new domains and to new audiences. I am really excited at the opportunities and the recognition that poetry can bring something new and dynamic to activities that have been well established and now want to find a new way of expressing themselves and to tap into the creativity of communities.

There are a few reading opportunities in the coming week:

The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club is tomorrow night (Tues 21st) hosted by Brian Langtry at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby De La Zouch starting at 8:00pm – A great mix of poetry and music from the floor; this has developed into a fantastic addition to the gig calendar in the Midlands. Licensed Bar and Free Entry.

Friday (24th) Sees the February Spoken Worlds in Burton on Trent at the Old Cottage Tavern in Bykerley St. Hosted by Gary Carr is starts at 7:30pm. The pub is a Real Ale pub and the event is free entry.

I will also mention that on Tuesday 28th Feb there is Poetry Alight at the Spark Café in Lichfield, I will put a reminder on next weeks blog.

My Lost Poet this week is a Canadian Modernist who was part of the Montreal Group. His poetry has been described as sometimes Metaphysical and at other times Imagist. It is his Nature poems that explore Canada’s landscape that interest me, his best known poem The Lonely Land was inspired by Frederick Varley’s painting Stormy Weather, at a Group of Seven exhibition in 1926, but I am getting ahead of myself.

My lost poet is A.J.M. Smith (1902 – 1980)

Arthur James Marshall Smith was born in Montreal and whilst I can find very little about his childhood, it is noted that he came to England to study from 1918-20 and it is during this period that he discovers the latest thinking in poetry that moves away from the Victorian poetic ideals and sees the rise of Modernism.

Modernism in Canada was virtually unknown at this time, the first Canadian Modernist collection was published by Arthur Stringer with his collection Open Water in 1914. This was hailed at the time as being the first free verse collection to come from a Canadian Poet, but was not linked to Modernism until much later.

When Smith returns to Montreal he enrolls at McGill University and by 1924 he is the co-editor and writer for the McGill Daily Literary Supplement, a year later he co-founds with F R Scott the McGill Fortnightly review. The Review attracts many young writers such as A M Klein, Leon Edel and Leo Kennedy, the group was to become the Montreal Group, who developed and promoted the ideals of modernism in a cultural background that was entrenched in Victorianism.

Smith’s poem the Lonely Land, written in 1929, was inspired by Varley’s painting. Varley was one of the Group of Seven Painters whose haunting landscapes with their distinctive visions capture the spirit of the place. The Canadian vast tracts of isolation, snow wastes and tortured forest. I had the pleasure of seeing these paintings at the Ottawa National Art Gallery in 2004 and have loved them ever since. They encapsulate as an artistic image, the genius loci, leaving you with the unnerving feelings of remoteness and disconnection.

Frederick Varley's Stormy Weather

Smith’s nature poems are most often described as being Imagist, taking the ethos of getting inside an object and sharing its uniqueness, internalizing to discover the spirit of the object, rather than the place in which it exists.
His poem – “To Hold a poem” is the first indication of this move towards internalizing his view point and much of his Nature poetry is concerned with experiencing the world through objects and the relationship to the other aspects of the landscape. This differs from the Metaphysical view which externalizes, making comparisons between the object in relation to other objects. Smith however wrote poetry that explored these different themes. He had studied the Metaphysical poets such as John Donne and his early work.

Smith in both his Imagist and Metaphysical poems seeks to put an order into things, whilst he describes the action, energies and forces at work in the landscapes, he is seeking to put the meaning and structure into these worlds. Smith to some extent goes beyond the theories of the Imagists, who see the role of the poet gaining an intellectual synergy with the object and describing what is found through the experience, but purely focusing the object. Smith goes beyond this and internalises thought.

Smith received his Doctorate from Edinburgh University in 1931. From 1936 he is promoting the poetry of other poets and is the co-editor of New Provinces an anthology of the Modernists.

It is at this time that he takes up the post of Professor at Michigan State College a position he held until his retirement in 1972. He became a naturalized American but spent his summers in Quebec. He was to become known as not just a poet but also a scholar who published many books and essays that brought Canadian Poetry to a wider audience.

He died in Michigan in November 1980. It was noted that he made a great contribution to the improvement of Canadian literacy.

Anne Compton’s Essays on A.J.M. Smith


Patterns for Poetry: Poetics in Seven Poems by A.J.M. Smith

Roderick Wilson Harvey Essay on A.J.M. Smith

“To Hold in a Poem”: Tension and Balance in A.J.M. Smith’s Verse

Michael Darlings Essay on A.J.M. Smith

A. J. M. Smith’s Revisions to His Poems

Ken Norris’ Essay on Canadian Modernism

The Beginnings of Canadian Modernism

The Group Of Seven – Links to websites on the Group of Seven Artists.




Readings in February

Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

Readings in March.

March 6th – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – Guest Poet Jan Watts.
March 17th – The Goblin Poetry and Folk Club – Ashby
March 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
March 27th – The Fizz – Polesworth – Guest Poet Barry Patterson.
March 30th – Leukaemia Research Fund Raiser – Progressive Club – Tamworth.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The Fast is too slow and the Slow is too fast!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Breathing Spaces


Hot Rocks – The Rolling Stones


Last week was exceptionally busy – with the film Double Booked still in the edit stage, I also managed to fit in a meeting on the Poets Trail, two Poetry evenings, a writers group and a meeting on a new project in Tamworth based around Pink Floyd’s Magnus opus The Wall.

I also found some time to add a page to this blog for THE FIZZ see the tab above – it gives a brief outline of The History of the event and some of the guest poets who have read at past events. There is more on the latest Fizz below.

The poets trail designs for the second phase are more or less signed off and being printed on to the aluminium sheets, ready to be fixed into the Oak lecterns which will be installed on site over the coming weeks.

In fact there are only three to be finalised and these are no taking the standard form of the lectern so require a little more work.

I was able to share some of the designs with the Poets at the Fizz on Tuesday and what a fine start to the poetry season with readings from Gary Carr and eleven readers from the floor.

THE FIZZ with guest poet – Gary Carr.

Gary split his set in two parts and read on themes from his life that were very personal to him. It was good to hear the range of Gary’s poetry in one place at one time brought together as a set rather than individual poems read out of context. Gary included many poems from his back catalogue, including Not having a ball and Octopus. He also did his children’s poem Marmite on Toast, which I use with Primary School Children to start off my Poetry Kite workshops, it always goes down well. His poetry ranges from serious to the whimsical and is delivered in tones suitable to the piece, exploring rhythms that demonstrate Gary’s love of music, sometimes verging on Rap.

Themes from the discomfort of facing a microphone, to a poetry gig where the audience was too loud or was he too fast, to the sadness of a family that play computer games and pile up dirty plates.

He also read the two poems he submitted for the poets trail, STOP and Them up there don’t know use down here exist, the latter being the selected poem for the trail.

Gary delivered them in a style that was easy to the ear and so you captured every word, the pace was right for the listener to reflect on every nuance and turn of phrase. Gary gives a fresh view of the world from a poet whose observations are sharp and sometimes off the wall that take you to look at some of the harsher things in life but in such a way you do not shy away from them.

A truly brilliant poet and performance, I look forward to Gary’s first collection brought together from this material.

I filmed Gary’s performance as I will with all the guest poets as a legacy of the Fizz, I am not sure as to yet how I will present these films, but I will let you know through this blog when Gary’s performance is available to view.

The Next Fizz is on 27th March when the Guest Poet will be Barry Patterson.

Gary’s own Spoken Worlds at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton on Trent on Friday was another excellent evening. With its now famous three halves with all readings from the floor, you never know what you are going to get. Friday’s readings were excellent with readers in fine form and delivering to the highest standards, engaging the audience into a range of thoughtful places. There were exceptional readings from Gary Longden, Tom Wyre, Margaret Torr and a great sketch from Terri and Ray Jolland.

The new blog and website for the Runaway Writers is attracting a lot of attention, with readers from beyond the group some from overseas who are enjoying the writing exercise – the first is on Food.

I seem to be posting things daily on the Runaway’s blog as information comes in on events, competitions and useful websites for writers. Hopefully interest will be sustained and the blog will become another useful resource for writers.

You can view the blog at http://runawaywriters.wordpress.com

My Lost Poet this week MARINA TSVETAEVA (1892-1941)

I came across Marina when I was researching another of my lost poets Osip Mandelstam, with whom she had a love affair. She is considered as being one of the finest Russian Modernist poets and has been compared with Sylvia Plath, Marina’s themes often transferring her emotions on to others, who she uses as her muse. Her prolific, highly original style, with its masculine monosyllabic eruptions does however give her a voice that is distinctly her own.

Belinda Cooke in her article on Marina describes her as “The Poet of the Extreme.” She certainly is passionate about her life and loves, in her time she has many affairs and writes of failed unrequited love, never quite finding the contentment of sharing her life with one person. Her passions taking her to the deepest of places, with idolatry and obsession driving her away from finding such contentment.

Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow, into a family of cultured academics, her father was a professor of fine art and her mother a concert pianist. Her life as child was a relatively comfortable, bourgeois one, although the disagreements between her and her siblings were often violent. Her mother discouraged her early leaning toward Poetry, describing it as a poor interest and wishing her daughter to become a pianist.

Marina was educated Lausanne and later studied at the Sorbonne. Following the death of her mother in 1906, Marina renewed her passion for poetry and made it the major focus of the rest of her life. It was at a time when Russian Poetry was in a major transformation with the rise of the Russian Symbolist Movement which was to influence her later work. Her first collection was self published in 1910 under the title Evening Album, it received much critical acclaim and marked her out as a poet of some substance, although in retrospect much of early work is seen as bland in comparison to her writing in later life.

She fell in love and married Sergei Efron an army cadet in 1912, the next few years were to see Russia go through Revolution which Marina and Sergei found them on the opposing side to the revolutionary Bolsheviks, both supporters of the White Russians.

Throughout her married life she was involved with many love affairs; much of the passion of her poetry is transferred on to her muse lovers.

By 1917 Marina had two daughters Alya and Irana. Whilst living in the poverty of the Moscow famine, Marina continued to write in support of the old regime, both poetry and plays, her works including “The Encampment of the White Swans” and the “Tsarist Maiden”. She was desperate to find a means of supporting her family; Sergei was away fighting with the White Army. She surrendered her children to the State orphanage in the mistaken belief that they would be better cared for. When Alya became ill, Marina removed her from the State care, Irana, succumbed to malnutrition in 1920 dying in the Orphanage. Marina was devastated, blamed her self and in a poem accuses herself of infanticide.

I stand accused of infanticide
unkind and weak.
And in hell I ask you,
‘My dear one what did I do to you?’

(from Marina Tsvetaeva Poet of the extreme. article by Belinda Cook)
By 1922 life in Moscow was unbearable and this led to their exile initially Berlin then to Prague and later to Paris, living within the émigrés of the White Russian community in exile. It was during this period that her son Georgy nicknamed Mur was born. Though she continued to write in support of the White Russian cause, her compatriots found her to be not White Russian enough and dismissed her work. She spent 14 unhappy years in Paris, finding comfort in correspondence with major writers, such as Boris Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Sergei, began to feel homesick for Russia and started developing Soviet sympathies, but was unsure of the welcome he would receive in Soviet Russia; their daughter Alya also followed his views. He began spying for the NKVD the forerunner of the KGB although Marina seems never to have known of his spying activities.

On the return to Russia in 1938 Sergei is arrested and implicated in the murder of Bolsheviks for which he was found guilty and shot, his daughter Alya is also implicated and sent to prison for eight years.
Marina and Mur return to Russia in 1939 as the tensions in Europe are rising. She too is arrested and knowing nothing of the charges that were brought against her husband, proceeds to quote French Poetry to her interrogators. Who formed the conclusion that she was mad and not implicated in the charges brought against her husband and daughter.

Marina finds it hard; she cannot find work because of her past support of the White Russian regime. Established writers shun her. She does find the occasional translation work as she has become fluent in many European languages during her exile.

She is further exiled to Yelabuga away from the main literary influences where in 1941 she hangs herself, some believe it was her situation and a wish to release her son from her past, others believe that it was the death of Sergei. Pasternak felt that he had personally failed her.

Following the death of Stalin. Her work was finally published and studied in Russia in 1961, where she received the acknowledgement as one of the Great Russian Modernists.

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich set six of Tsvetaeva’s poems to music, there are recordings here.
Poem 1 http://youtu.be/Cy79p3u7-uo
Poem 2 http://youtu.be/cXh0h862cRo
Poem 3 http://youtu.be/L-Ri2wFl62A
Poem 4 http://youtu.be/6fC8TLR-DM8
Poem 5 http://youtu.be/bn7-VgrKg38
Poem 6 http://youtu.be/bFb2dOBGizI

These are all sung in Russian but some have the English Translations in the comments.

Her work has been translated into English by many poets and writers including Elaine Feinstein whose Marina Tsvetaeva – Selected poems was published by the Oxford University Press in 1993.
A newer translation is available see:

You can find Belinda Cooke’s article Poet of the Extreme here:


Readings in February

Feb 5th – Recording of The Lost Poets – Radio Wildfire.
Feb 7th – Night Bluefruit – Coventry.
Feb 21st – The Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Ashby
Feb 24th – Spoken Worlds – Burton
Feb 28th – Poetry Alight at the Spark Café – Lichfield.

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